fter the longest closure in the Metropolitan Museum’s 150-year history, the exhibition: Making the Met is said to open at the end of August as a celebration of its grand reopening.
The exhibition includes 250 objects that present: How does the museum give an account of itself today? The Met has begun the process of correcting its institutional foundation to begin on the path of accountability.
From 1870-2020 the Met’s collection has grown to surpass all European Museums in which the Met was modeled after. This updated account of itself stems from the museums current monumental birthday as well as the contemporary society of 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic caused the Met to record a loss of 150 million in revenue and a decrease in staff by 20%.
While silence and stillness set over the infamous museum the strength and breadth of the Met’s collection was called into question.
Accountability is the action of taking responsibility. Andrea Bayer, deputy director for collections and administration, and Laura D. Corey, a senior researcher, chose to display the 250 objects with the date acquired rather than the period or place made. This choice was guided by a team of hundreds, which the article points out, all were credited by name at the entrance to the exhibition.
This choice was influenced by the resent resurfacing of the Black Lives Matter movement. In June, the Met’s director, Max Hollein’s statement of solidarity was critiqued causing an analysis over the museums’ past and present wrongdoings. Hollein retracted his statement and brought the institution to a place of accountability, were no predecessors did before, with his statement:
“There is no doubt that the Met and its development is also connected with a logic of what is defined as white supremacy.”
The exhibition, “Making the Met,” is taking small strides of ambition to take accountability of the historical blind spots of this institution, but by describing the 250 objects by the point of acquirement may cause a disconnect from the ugly history surrounding how the object made its way into the Met.
The antiquities acquired through the forced “partages” of museum-financed archaeological digs of the 1920s and ’30s are represented within the exhibition. As well as the “finest donations” of big business financiers, like “an exquisite 14th-century mosque lamp,” which J.P. Morgan gave the Met in 1917.
It is ironic to see this article talk about accountability as well as “the creation of the Rockefeller wing for art of Africa, Oceania and the Indigenous Americas,” but with in this wing inclusion is through the acceptance of contemporary artists.
Today’s society has a growing embrace of modern and contemporary creation from all over the globe. People of all types wish to be represented by artists that “look like them” within the Met. These inclusive gaps in the Met’s supposedly “universal” collection are being closed with the slow welcoming of modern works by the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui and the Indian artist Mrinalini Mukherjee, last summer.
Eurocentricity will fade into the desired universalism. Decision by progressive decision will the Met’s holding globalize away from the history of colonial violence as a new age of “relational ethics” is upon society.
“To treat objects of the collection not as static objects of beauty, but vectors whose meanings and values change as they circulate among people… where all of us, at all times, from all places, find our reflections in the art of all peoples.” By Jason Farago